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The UK’s new academic centres of excellence in cyber security

I’m not on the GCHQ press mailing list, so I missed this earlier this week. But, better late than never, so let’s make up for it.

GCHQ has announced the first eight recipients of its ‘Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research’ status. They are:

  • University of Bristol
  • Imperial College London
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Oxford
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • University of Southampton
  • University College London

Cambridge? Not good enough. Really?

Can anybody (and I’m an Oxford man) honestly believe that Ross Anderson’s Cambridge security research is not more than deserving of a centre of excellence status?

Ross Anderson is a living legend in security. It was he who said “It may take a cyber-attack to convince the Prime Minister that GCHQ is incompetent and things need to be changed.” And it was he who, according to the BBC, said that “the culture of the UK’s security body GCHQ [is] non-collaborative, unlike that of the US National Security Agency.”

And it was he who said the greater part of the UK’s cyber security budget would be used for offensive purposes by GCHQ rather than cyber defence. “Suppose you’re a scientist at Cheltenham and you come up with a new exploit of Windows. Are you going to tell Microsoft, get it patched and protect 60 million Brits? Or are you going to keep quiet about it so you can exploit 1.2 billion Chinese and 1 billion Indians, for example?”

GCHQ don’t know what they’re missing. Cambridge, however, will be aware that they are losing out on their share of the £630,000,000 government cyber security budget – all £50,000 (9 months of a decent cryptographer?) of it being awarded to the chosen eight.

I bet Anderson regrets he called GCHQ incompetent now.

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